Lying on the white carpeting was a small square packet, full of tiny holes, as Mom once again, looked through the phone book for a carpet cleaning service.
I'm not sure why the builder put in such light colored carpeting; perhaps they had no kids or pets, taking off their shoes before entering their Zen-like evening of peace and uninterrupted sleep.
They definitely didn't come home to trip over a half dozen dog toys, hoping that someone didn't leave a special gift in the corner, even with a friend or dog walker that comes over to let him out most days.
The day began with a squeaky toy that I named Robbie Roadkill, a flat little toy creature made out of stitched-together flat squares of cloth containing tiny squeakers, on which was only attached a plush little head and little legs. It was his new favorite thing, not just one squeaker to kill, but a dozen. It was also my new "do we have any single malt scotch left?” toy.
After this last trip, Barkley started a vigil by the suitcase; I had no idea why, until now.
I'd had a very early wake up so when I got home from work, a nap was in order as soon as he had been fed and let out. I got out of my shoes and pants and shirt, put on some pajamas and lay down on the twin bed in the office, where a bit of sun had nicely warmed it.
It felt so good to be home. The trip to visit them was great, but I got called out of town immediately thereafter, a girlfriend staying with Barkley, the suitcase still with me.
This little bed, this little room, felt like shelter to me, warm, safe, nothing like being on the road for days on end. Nights in an unfamiliar hotel in another time zone, the air weighted with strange smells and the noise of the airport next door banging on your window like an unwanted peddler, and even if you stayed there willingly, you couldn't wait to get away. Where is the shelter in that, if only in the emptiness that reminds the heart of what it's capable of?
I told myself I could just go to sleep here and not wake up until morning.
Then I heard something.
I walked back out into the living room. No Barkley. I looked down the hall, past the bathroom, into the master bedroom.
There in the darkened hall was this black apparition surrounded by a little cloud of something, looking like Pigpen in the Peanuts cartoon. He had something in his mouth and as he chomped on it, puffs of some type of a powder substance came out of it in little puffs, which then somehow combined molecularly with dog drool to make small gobs of dark sticky goop on the white carpeting. All over the carpeting.
“What in the world . .?”
Chomp Chomp, Drool Chomp.
But how did he get this one? The packet was inside a pocket inside the closed but not zippered suitcase. Don't ask me how he extricated that and Dang it, that’s my last pack!
Chomp Chomp Drool
“Drop it. Drop it! outoutoutoutoutoutoutotuout!”
The package was full of holes, but it still contained some of its contents, most of the rest still unconsumed, by the looks of what was on the floor, smeared all around with dog spit and paws. I am thankful he hadn't tried to eat it, just play with it.
Then he started licking his paws. He got a taste of it now, and there was no going back.
Lick Lick Lick “No NO! Chocolate bad!”
I ran water in the big "Garden” tub, the only way I could think to get his paws clean quickly and at once, as he was determined to lick it all off. He does not like baths, but he needed to get in.
Note to self, putting peanut butter on one's fingers to lure the dog into a tub full of water with you is not a good idea, unless you're wearing Kevlar long johns, which Victoria’s Secret does not stock.
LICK LICK “No, don't push!!! SPLASH!
BARK BARK BARK BARK
There would be no nap. There was now a stain that looked vaguely like Gorbachev’s (or Fred Mertz, I get them confused) birthmark in the hall ready for paper towels and cleaner. I now had a damp dog lying on the bed in the sun in the office, which only moments ago, had an indentation of my tired head on the bedspread. I smelled like wet dog, peanut butter, and dog spit.
And I had this sudden hankering for chocolate.